Much like the first contest, game two came down to the wire. In a NBA season full of fantastic moments, this very game might take the cake as the best so far.
After Amare Stoudemire left the game in the second quarter with back spasms, the game quickly turned into Carmelo Anthony vs. the world. In one of his finest performances to date, Melo turned in 42 points and 17 rebounds, keeping his team close until the very end.
The game was thrilling. It was the epitome of hard-nosed, playoff basketball. So, take a look and see who passed and who failed as I hand out the grades for game two.
Dan is a Boston Celtics featured columnist. Follow him on twitter @dantheman_06.
D'Antoni, all things considered, has actually gotten two fairly solid defensive efforts in a row from his squad. The Celtics got almost nothing from the bench, and Kevin Garnett struggled for most of the night.
Sure, it became apparent pretty quickly that no New York player could stop Rajon Rondo, but with a severely depleted point guard rotation, the Knicks couldn't afford to waste fouls and bodies on him.
The Knicks kept the difference close despite Chauncey Billups and Amare Stoudemire's absence.
And then again, when Carmelo Anthony plays the way he did, there's little to be coached.
Much of the same from Rivers tonight. He always coaches exceptionally, but by his standards, tonight wasn't anything out of the norm.
He got little production out of his bench, and his team couldn't keep an undersized and undermanned Knicks squad off the offensive glass.
At the same time, Rajon Rondo was brilliant, and his team hung in there long enough to squeak out a win.
Amare Stoudemire logged just 18 minutes before leaving the game with back spasms and not returning.
The injury clearly dogged him from the get go. After a stellar game one performance, Stoudemire scored just four points on 2-9 shooting to go along with five rebounds.
When he was in the game, he settled mostly for jump shots and seemed wary of putting the ball on the floor and driving to the hoop, which had been so successful for him in game one.
It doesn't seem right to fail a player who clearly wasn't himself and wasn't able to give a full performance due to injury. Amare gets an incomplete.
For most of the night, Kevin Garnett stunk up the joint. After 47 minutes had already fallen off the game clock, he was a measly 5-15 from the floor, and he seemingly couldn't get anything to fall. Defensively, he wasn't necessarily a liability, but the few times he was challenged, Jared Jeffries got the better of him.
But, in typical Kevin "frothing at the mouth" Garnett fashion, he made the key plays down the stretch that led to the win.
He made the go ahead hook shot with 0:13 left in the game, bodying Jeffries so hard he nearly lost control of the ball.
Then, he pounced on a errant pass by Jeffries on the ensuing Knicks possession, sealing the Celtics' 96-93 victory.
It wasn't pretty, but KG got the job done in the end. His grade gets a bump because of his last minute heroics.
Where oh where has Landry Fields gone?
After a fantastic rookie season, Landry Fields has all but disappeared for the Knicks when they've needed him most.
He logged just 15 minutes, scoring just four points on 2-4 shooting. He was the only Knick who failed to register a rebound in the game, and he did almost nothing to stop the onslaught of Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen, who combined for 48 points on 19-31 (61 percent) shooting.
Once again, Ray Allen proved that all he needs is a couple of screens and an open look here or there to provide a boatload of offense.
He needed just eight shots (making six) to score 18 points. He was a perfect 4-4 from the three point line and 2-2 from the free throw line, while bringing in four rebounds, dishing two assists and recording three steals.
Ray Allen was money all night, and he carried the Celtics offense along with Rajon Rondo for much of the game. Defensively, he was an alternate on Carmelo Anthony, yet managed to give his team a great offensive performance and 39 minutes.
Jared Jeffries gave the Knicks the most solid performance behind Carmelo Anthony. His 26 minutes were the fourth highest of any New York player, and he poured in 10 points on a solid 5-7 shooting.
His greatest contribution, however, was his activity on the offensive boards and on the defensive end. He gave the Knicks four offensive rebounds, the second highest total of the game (behind Anthony). The Knicks were a plus 11 on the offensive glass, which was the main reason they were able to stay in the game.
Jeffries bothered KG (6-16 shooting) and the rest of the Celtics bigs for most of the night.
Other than Jared Jeffries, the rest of the Knicks bench was fairly putrid.
The four other reserves who played—Anthony Carter, Roger Mason, Shawne Williams and Bill Walker—gave their team just 13 points on 3-21 shooting. Bill Walker's 0-11 shooting night was a microcosm of the way the rest of the bench (minus Jeffries) played.
The only value they offered was on the glass, where they combined for 15 rebounds, 12 of which were between Walker and Williams.
For the second night in a row, the Celtics bench was a non-factor. They gave the C's just 14 points on 5-15 shooting, and were mostly apathetic on the boards.
After the starting unit had built up a ten point lead early on, the bench was responsible for letting the Knicks back into the game. Instead of kicking into overdrive and putting the game away before it even started, the bench opened the door and let the Knicks back into the dance, where they stayed for the rest of the night.
It's really hard to give Paul Pierce a grade on this one. He was the main guy responsible for guarding Carmelo Anthony, and judging by Melo's 42 points and 17 boards he didn't do a very good job of it.
But, Melo took his game into a different stratosphere. He was playing a different game than everyone else, and I doubt anything would have changed if someone other than Pierce was guarding him.
Pierce struggled to find his offense early, mostly a result of his focus on the defensive end. He did turn in a nifty 20 points on 8-18 shooting and five rebounds, and he made a couple of his signature mid-range J's late in the game.
Pierce admitted in his post-game interview that he needs to do a better job on Antony in the future, and his defensive effort tonight brought his overall grade down.
Rajon Rondo was clearly the best player on the floor for the Celtics.
In game one, he was hesitant, pulling up too early on the fastbreak and refusing to penetrate. In game two, he was the exact opposite. He was relentless in his assault of the rim, and he looked for his own offense with confidence.
His ability to penetrate and collapse the Knicks defense not only yielded solid looks for the rest of his teammates, but it resulted in a career playoff high 30 points (13-23 shooting), to go along with seven assists, four rebounds, and two steals.
This is the type of confident Rondo that the Celtics need if they want to win a championship.
Where to even begin. Not only was Carmelo the best player on the floor by a wide margin, but he essentially was the entire Knicks team.
It became pretty clear that without Chauncy Billups and Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony was going to have to dominate the game if the Knicks were going to have a chance.
Well, that's what he did.
Melo turned in 42 points, nearly 44 percent of the team's scoring load. Not only that, but he did so on an efficient 14-30 shooting, including 4-8 from three and 10-11 from the free throw line.
Perhaps even more important than his scoring, however, was his rebounding. He gave the Knicks a game high 17 rebounds, including a game high five on the offensive glass.
The Knicks didn't have much presence on the glass even with Stoudemire on the floor, so somebody was going to have to step up when he went down. Anthony accepted that challenge.
Anthony just plain and simple played out of his mind. It's really hard to quantify his performance, but an A++ is the best I can come up with. I guess you could say he was on that PhD level.
As a team, the Celtics operated pretty well on the offensive end. They shot 39-83 (47.0 percent) from the field and 6-11 (54.5 percent) from three, and they got very good performances out of Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen.
Paul Pierce was decent, KG was mediocre, and the bench stunk up the joint. But at the end of the day, they still turned in 96 points.
Carmelo Anthony was phenomenal, but everyone beyond him was fairly lackluster. The Knicks shot just 42.3 percent from the field, and the rest of the team besides Anthony shot just 35 percent.
Without Anthony's offense, rebounding, and dare I say court vision, the Knicks would likely have been blown out of the water.
The Celtics couldn't stop Carmelo Anthony, but they stopped just about everyone else. Boston almost never adjusts their defensive rotations to account for a single player, so tonight was no surprise.
But they allowed 20 offensive boards, which gave the Knicks an additional seven shots. Defensive rebounding was an issue for the C's, and they'll have to make adjustments further down the line.
The Knicks didn't really play great defensive game. But, by their standards, tonight wasn't too terrible either.
The Knicks want to play games in the upper 90s and 100s, and they did this while keeping the Celtics under 50 percent from the field and limiting the action of their frontcourt.